Though I cannot prove it, I believe that if I had had to listen to one more negative attack advertisement about this or that candidate, I would have exploded. It wears on the spirit, doesn’t it? That kind of continuous rhetoric, continuous assault on the integrity of others has a way of dragging the spirit down. (It makes you wonder why anyone would ever enter into politics, knowing that they would have to face such a barrage of attacks…)
So it was refreshing to have the readings for the feast of St. Martin de Porres greet me on Wednesday morning as I prepared for the All-School Mass. St. Paul wrote:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil.4:8)
Now, I realize I am an eternal optimist and a romantic to boot. And I know that many other people do not share that view of the world. So I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that most of the political ads and the campaign managers would ever give much thought to applying these words of St. Paul to their election strategy. But of the two different world views espoused by campaign ads on the one side and St. Paul’s words on the other, I would chose the latter, not the former.
And unlike the ads on TV, you and I have some control over creating that kind of world around us. Are our words honorable and true? Do we commit to what is pure and lovely? Are the jokes we tell and the stories we share about other people gracious and worthy of praise? Do we call others to excellence and accept nothing but our own striving for that virtue in all the things that we do?
So, let me encourage this little meditation from St. Paul for use as your examination of conscience for the end of a day, and as a part of your morning offering as you begin a new one. What a different world we could create by making this our intention each day. And if we do this, we will know the truth of that final line from this section of St. Paul’s writing. “Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil.4:9)